Wanderlust Blog

Posts Tagged ‘New York’

Here at Amazing Journeys, we’re lucky have the best jobs in the world—and we think our good fortune is worth sharing. So, when your next journey seems like a distant dream, take a few minutes to explore our WANDERLUST blog—it’s chock full of engaging tales and helpful tips from our travels around the world. Check out the most recent entry (at the top) or search by your preferred criteria. Consider it motivation for your next embarkation.

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Close to Home Summer Getaways

Monday, July 24th, 2017

There’s nothing like a weekend spent in Hershey, Pennsylvania.  For our family, it had always meant the beginning of summer.  A few happy June days were spent at the hotel pool, HersheyPark amusement park and gorging on chocolate.  In Hershey, chocolate is available everywhere.  Upon arrival at the Mediterranean style 1930’s designed Hotel Hershey, you are checked in and greeted with one large chocolate bar for each member of your family.  Being handed five chocolate bars upon check in is a kid’s dream come true.  OK, I confess, it was a dream come true for me as well.

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The stunning pink resort sits proudly upon the highest hill in the otherwise mostly flat farmland surrounding this city.  It can be seen from nearly everywhere in the city.  It boasts one of the finest restaurant in the state, the Circular Dining Room, which serves an amazing Sunday Brunch with all of the yummy items that make up for best brunches, but what’s different here is that the waffles have chocolate chips, the pancakes are served with chocolate syrup, pancakes topped with chocolate shavings and there are chocolate desserts galore!

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Did I mention the spa at the resort?  Have you ever had a chocolate facial?  What about an almond scrub?  They’re not only delicious but so relaxing as well.

The town of Hershey is adorable with “kisses” for street lamps and wonderful little cafes and restaurants lining the main street.

The town of Hershey is about four hours from New York City, New Jersey and Pittsburgh.  It’s only 1.5 hours from Philadelphia and Washington, DC making it an ideal location for weekend travel.  If you’re looking for something to do this summer (or any weekend year round), this should be on your short list.  It’s one of my top picks for quick summer getaways!

Batter Up!

Thursday, March 28th, 2013
-by Bill Cartiff
If you know me, you know that my other passion in life, besides Alaska, is baseball.  Opening Day is just a few days away and this time of year seems to conjure up thoughts warm spring days, a new beginning and a down home American feel. It’s Baseball Season!!
My beloved Pittsburgh Pirates’ 20 consecutive losing seasons aside, I love what the sport of baseball offers us; cameraderie…a childhood love….historic lore….and a game that seems to draw people in on so many levels (think – a father teaching a son how to catch, sharing a beer and hotdog with your best buddy at a game, or…visiting some of the most famed venues in all the sports world). 

For all you baseball lovers out there (single, married, father/son, mother/daughter, male or female, best friends, grandpa/grandkids….) I invite you to join me on weekend trip chock full of baseball nostalgia, baseball-oriented activities and modern day baseball excitement.
We’ll visit Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium and Citi Field….plus the famous Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.  In addition to the games at each ball park, you’ll have on-the-field VIP experiences including a behind the scenes tour of The Green Monster and a backstage tour of Yankee Stadium.  You’ll even get to “batter up” with some hitting practice at local batting cages.
 
This is a dream trip for baseball lovers of ALL ages and I hope you’ll come along with me to New York, Cooperstown and Boston:

Traveler’s Beware; Stop Complaining!

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

Ben Franklin once said, “Constant complaint is the poorest sort of pay for all the comforts we enjoy”.  As a travel professional, and avid traveler myself the susceptibility to hear or have to manage any myriad of complaints can be mind boggling. One of Amazing Journeys’ mantras is “don’t sweat the small stuff” – a statement reminded to folks more often than need be. In the world of travel it’s true that 10% of the people cause 90% of the problems but to those 10% I proclaim; really?…..is it THAT bad?? I don’t think so. Actually, I know so!

If you are a good seasoned and appreciative traveler, you know that the differences in the people you meet, the delayed flights, uncontrollable factors like weather and lost luggage, perhaps that cow that just laid down on the road delaying your route, or the last minute tax that the local government has imposed…..are all part & parcel in the world of travel. And honestly, didn’t you go on vacation to experience something “different” than what you have at home day after day? If you wanted the same comforts as home, the same food, the same weather, the same greetings….the same mundane routine that embodies familiarity…..then stay home and get that. But if you want to have a vacation (in other words, to “vacate” from the routine)…don’t just hope for it, expect it and embrace ALL the wonderful, amazing, unplanned differences that will come your way.

Here is a little perspective on just how unjustified our griping can be, and just how good we really have it. Think about these; and then ask yourself if you really want your travels to be different from how they are (….be careful what you wish for; things could be a lot worse):

Travel fees – Add-on fees for travel have proliferated into a dizzying array of charges, surcharges, add-ons and premiums that boost air-travel costs. Here’s why: Average airfares are roughly half what they were when the government controlled prices and a plane ticket included all the amenities for which airlines now charge. Airlines don’t do that because they are greedy. They add on fees in order to stay in business. The average profit margin for an airline worldwide was 0.6 percent in 2012. Compare that with much-admired industries, such as consumer electronics, where profit margins are 40 percent.

Airport security protocol – See that long line through security?  The grunts and groans in this wing of any airport can be heard in multitude almost every hour.  It’s the airport’s fault though, that you didn’t plan ahead better.  Did you read the information provided to you about the recommended arrival time?  Have you not been to an airport before?   You were gambling, though, weren’t you?  Admit it – you knew the line could be long, but you took a chance and lost.  But, its not your fault; it’s the airport’s fault for having a system of security and safety that leads itself to you being late.   Yeah…blame it on the airport.  And then, just remember a little healthy perspective: according to the TSA 99% of air travelers actually spend less than 20 minutes going through security.  Now….plan your next trip accordingly.

Mean TSA officers – In December 2011 the TSA received a total of 320 customer complaints about agent courtesy — only 0.0005 percent of all air-travel passengers that month.

Kids on planes – What can be worse than being stuck in the back of a plane with an unhappy 3-year-old bawling?  Yes, every once in a while a child disrupts the alleged serenity of a plane, but the overwhelming majority of parents do a great job keeping their babies and toddlers peaceable for most of the flight. What are parents supposed to do- leave the kids home alone?  More often than not, it’s adults who cause the most disruption.

Long flights – This one is my favorite!  “Oh, that long, long haul from New York to Shanghai – it’s brutal!” Just terrible: 12 hours sitting in a temperature-controlled, cushioned seat while you watch movies, nap, people wait on you, and you pass across the planet far above storms and other earthly obstacles. A century ago, that same journey took at a month, cramped on a motion-sickness inducing bitterly cold or oppressively hot, dirty vessel.  Instead, you can now get from New York to LA in four hours, or from one continent to the next in less time that it would take you to drive from Miami to Dallas. Our modern ability to wing around the world in comfort is nothing short of a miracle. Stop Complaining!!!

Sick people traveling – Epidemiologists will tell you that you’re just as likely to catch a cold from a trip to the grocery store, the movies, a bus ride, a restaurant, work or school as on a plane. Would it be nice if travelers who’ve come down with a cold do their best to curb their emissions — take medicines for symptomatic relief, cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze, maybe even wear a mask? Sure. Most do exactly that.

First-class upgrades – Folks, the people in first class have paid for their seats, either outright with a 300 percent premium — or more — over the price you paid, or by devoting their ongoing travel costs to one airline so they gain elite status in the carrier’s frequent-flier program. The first-class seat is a reward for customer loyalty.

Canceled flights – Did you realize that less than 2 percent of all the flights in the US are cancelled?  And even that figure is high, based on a December 2012 report; a winter month. Of all the travel complaints, this may be the least understandable. Do you really want to trust fate on a plane with an unsolved mechanical issue or in bad weather?  As a famous Beatle once said, “Let it be”.

Phone restrictions – Even though many say it’s nonsense that phones and other electronic devices might interfere with pilot communications, that’s not what pilots say. Isn’t it just a bit therapeutic to be offline for the few hours of your flight? If you still pine for your phone, consider this.  If it ever becomes ok for you, it becomes ok for everyone.  Imagine your loudmouth seatmate chatting incessantly all the way from Baton Rouge to Tacoma while you’re trying to nap or read your work report.  Better safe than sorry, in this case.

Expensive airfares – Playwright Oscar Wilde said, “Everybody knows the price of something, but nobody knows the value.” In this case, most people know neither. Inside the U.S., airfares adjusted for inflation are less than half what they were three decades ago, and have been declining almost every single year. The average inflation-adjusted airfare in 1980 was more than $600; in 2011, it was $360 (including fees). Cost per mile: 32 cents 1980, 16 cents now.

Not convinced? Here’s a real-time comparison for travel between San Francisco and New York. By plane, it costs approximately $400. By car, $1,480. By train, $285.

A Night in the Big Apple!

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

Amazing Journeys is coming to New York for a party!

Join us in the City for a night of “reunionizing” with old and new friends alike.  For those who have never traveled with us before and are eager to see what we’re all about, this is your night to meet the staff of AJ as well as scores of New Yorkers (and New Jersey-ers and Connecticut-ers….and out-of-town-ers who are coming in just for the fun of it)  for a fun midweek gathering.   We’ll begin the evening with a short presentation on our 2013 lineup of trips, along with some incentives, specials and prizes.  Following the show, we open the bar and restaurant for 2 hours of what Amazing Journeys does best; fun and friends!  This is what we are all about and if you haven’t yet caught the buzz, come along and catch it.  You’ll be glad you did!

If you have traveled with us before, come by to say hello and visit with old and new friends alike.  We look forward to seeing you again!

We’ve rented out one of the Upper West Side’s hottest establishment for 3 hours in total – a private event just for Amazing Journeys friends; past present and future.  We hope to see you there!

Tuesday, February 19 at Prohibition – 503 Columbus Avenue

6 – 7 pm  Presentation:
7 – 9 pm  Happy Hour with staff and friends of Amazing Journeys.  Join us for drinks and party food!

$18 per person if you register by February 15 ($25 after, and at the door)
*Includes exclusive private use of Prohibition, one drink and a variety of party food!  Additional drinks are available for purchase.

For Jewish Singles of all ages.

For more information and a registration form, click here: http://amazingjourneys.net/trip/party-in-new-york

Safe Thoughts To Our Friends Effected By Sandy

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

Dear Travel Friends,

Many of our families, friends, and colleagues in the New York area as well as the rest of the mid-Atlantic and the northeast have been impacted by the devasting storm. Some continue to be harassed as the pieces of Sandy continue to effect more and more regions.  Your friends at Amazing Journeys are thinking of you all and wish you a quick cleanup, an expeditious “back-to-normal” and most importantly, a safe path through it all.   

What to do if your trip is canceled or delayed by Hurricane Sandy:

Q: If my flight’s been canceled, will I have to pay a fee to reschedule?  So far more than 10,000 flights in North America had been canceled.  Carriers have been allowing travelers to re-book at no extra charge. There are some restrictions, so be sure to ask.

Q: What if I want my money back instead? If your flight is canceled, you’re entitled to a refund, even on a non-refundable ticket.

Q: What if I used frequent-flier miles to book my flight? Your miles can be redeposited without a penalty.

Q: I was set to take Amtrak down the coast, but there’s no service. What are my options? Amtrak suspended all trips in the Northeast Corridor through Tuesday. Train passengers can get a refund, or a voucher they can use to take a future trip.

Q: What If I’d planned to take the bus along the East Coast? Several bus lines, including Boltbus and Megabus, suspended service along the East Coast on Monday and Tuesday. Megabus is planning to get back on the road after noon Tuesday, though that could change as the storm progresses. Riders who had their plans cancelled between Sunday and Tuesday can re-book a trip without paying a fee, or they can get their money back. Greyhound buses are also not running in the Northeast on Monday or Tuesday, but riders have up to a year to use their tickets.

Q: If I now have to spend an extra day in New York or, say, Washington, D.C., can I get around via local transportation?  There is a lot of uncertainty right now. New York’s subway, rail and bus system is still shut down as of this writing. This is only the second time in history that the entire system has come to a halt because of weather and it is unclear when things will start moving again.  The New Jersey Transit is also still suspended, as is Washington’s Metro system, which carries over a million riders a day.  Philadelphia’s public transit network is also closed. Local transportation authorities in all of these areas are still uncertain when service would resume.

Q: If I’m stranded in a hotel, what are my sightseeing options?  Major tourist attractions up and down the East Coast were closed Monday, including Broadway theaters in New York City, Smithsonian Institution museums in Washington, and Colonial Williamsburg sights.  These next few days might be time to try and enjoy some of the more simpler things in life, like visiting a friend, catching up on your reading or taking a walk (don’t forget your galoshes).

In The Spirit Of The Holiday Season

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

The Torah explains that Jews have 613 mitzvot by which we should base our good-deeds lives upon. There are mitzvot about foods, holidays and prayers, kindness and cleanliness, honesty, how to treat other people and lots more.

Some of the mitzvahs we should try do are:

  • Honor your mother and father
  • Give Charity
  • Learn
  • Pray
  • Visit the sick or elderly
  • Care for animals

This past weekend in the heart of New York City and just a few days prior to our Days of Awe, an amazing journey of another kind took place thanks to the kindness, generosity and mitzvah of three siblings.  Bruce and Steven Stark and Ellen Gabe, owners of Beacon Paint & Hardware (www.beaconpaint.com) hosted their 12th annual Guiding Eyes for the Blind fundraiser; an organization that raises and trains seeing-eye dogs.

After Shabbat on Sept 24th, over 300 supporters gathered in a school yard adjacent to the Museum of National History for music, food, puppy playtime, socializing and a presentation full of accolades to those who helped make the event possible.  The food, lighting, staging and even t-shirts were all donated for this worthy cause and by the end of the night over $15,000 was raised for this wonderful cause.

I traveled up from Pittsburgh to take part of this meaningful event. I returned home after the weekend touched and honored to have been invited to take part.  This was not an event about loving animals, although those who love dogs were certainly overjoyed. This was an event about helping people in need.  It takes tens of thousands of dollars to raise, train and support a service dog and their meanings to the lives of needy people cannot be understated.  Bruce, Steven and Ellen know that premise all too well as they had a sister who suffered blindness and greatly benefitted from her beloved service pup.

In the spirit of Rosh Hashana and the most powerful, meaningful time of year for us Jews….cheers to Bruce, Steven and Ellen for all their mitzvahs during this amazing journey of a different kind!  And yes, Amazing Journeys passengers were grand supporters as well. Over 40 local (and a couple out of towners) came to the event – and dozens more sent in donations. 

Shana Tova to one and all. May this year be amazing; full of love, good health, prosperity, great friends and lots of togetherness. 

Cruise Ships in Brooklyn Going Green – Plugs In on Shore

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011


The mighty Queen Mary 2 will no longer be belching diesel fumes over Red Hook when it docks at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal next year. Instead, the cruise ship will shut its engines and plug into a giant electrical outlet built especially for the port.

After about two years of negotiations, the Bloomberg administration announced recently a multiagency agreement to supply cruise ships with “shore power,” The Brooklyn terminal will become the first on the East Coast to adopt the cleaner technology.


Advocates for the environment, who have staged protests and lobbied since 2006, hope the pending agreement will rid the waterfront community of a veil of haze and what they contend are associated health risks.


There has been little controversy about the merits of reducing pollution, mostly sulphuric gases, from cruise ships idling in port.  The debate raged, however, over who should foot the bill. Electricity for a 3,000-passenger cruise ship the size of four football fields was not exactly on the rate card for the NYC Power Authority, which provides power for the cruise terminal.  But ultimately, the city, state and private sector came to a tentative agreement. and the Economic Development Corp  agreed to subsidize some of the cost of the power, as did the power authority.


Under the five-year agreement, Carnival Cruise Lines, which owns the Queen Mary 2, will pay 12 cents per kilowatt hour, while the city economic agency and the power authority will divide the remaining 16 cents, according to one official with knowledge of the deal.  Carnival will also have to pay $4 million to retrofit its two ships that use the port the Queen Mary 2 and the Caribbean Princess. The two ships dock in Brooklyn a total of 40 times a year.


For the cruise line, the deal may cost about $1.7 million more than using the diesel generators that now operate at the port. But the company has already embraced the technology, introducing it 10 years ago in Juneau, Alaska.  Electrical power is now used at cruise terminals in Vancouver, Seattle, San Francisco and San Diego and Los Angeles.


A large cruise ship burning diesel emits more than 1,600 tons of air pollutants annually, according to an environmental impact study conducted as part of the project to switch from diesel to electricity.  Plugging in to an alternative hydroelectric source would eliminate nearly 1,500 tons of carbon dioxide, 95 tons of nitrous oxide and 6.5 tons of diesel particulate matter annually.  Just from the shore powering of these two ships, it will be the equivalent of removing 5,000 cars per year from the road.”